Last updated

The Hattians ( /ˈhætiənz/ ) were an ancient Bronze Age people that inhabited the land of Hatti, in central Anatolia (modern Turkey). They spoke a distinctive Hattian language, which was neither Semitic nor Indo-European. Hattians are attested by archeological records from the Early Bronze Age and by historical references in later Hittite and other sources. Their main centre was the city of Hattush. Faced with Hittite expansion (since c. 2000 BC), Hattians were gradually absorbed (by c. 1700 BC) into the new political and social order, imposed by the Hittites, who were one of the Indo-European-speaking Anatolian peoples. The Hittites kept the country name ("land of Hatti") unchanged, which also became the main designation for the Hittite state. [1] [2] [3]



Hattian metalwork: golden ewer decorated with concentric circles Ewer decorated with concentric circles MET DT11911.jpg
Hattian metalwork: golden ewer decorated with concentric circles

Complex questions related to etymology of endonymic terms for Hattians, their land, language and capital city (Hatti, Hattili, Hattush) are debated among scholars. Later conquerors (Hittites) did not change the name of the city (Hattush). They also adopted the regional name (Land of Hatti), and even expanded its use, transforming it into the most common designation for their entire country, that grew to be much larger than the land of ancient Hattians. [4]

It is therefore assumed that Hattian designations had some special significance already during the pre-Hittite period, and it is also accepted, as a convention among scholars, that Hattian labels can be used as designations for the pre-Hittite population of central Anatolia, [5] although it is not known whether ethnically related inhabitants of neighboring regions and city-states (surrounding the city-state of Hattush) ever saw themselves as Hattians.

The use of the term "Proto-Hittite" as a designation for Hattians is inaccurate. The Hittite language (self-designation: Nešili, "[in the language] of Neša") is an Indo-European language and thus linguistically distinct from the (non-Indo-European) Hattian language. The Hittites continued to use the term Land of Hatti for their own state. The Hattians eventually merged with people who spoke Indo-European languages of the Anatolian group, including Hittite, Luwian, and Palaic.


Goddess figurines (featuring stylised navels, breasts and vulvas) discovered at Alacahoyuk. Alaca Huyuk istenno idolok.jpg
Goddess figurines (featuring stylised navels, breasts and vulvas) discovered at Alacahöyük.

Several archeological sites in central Anatolia, dating from the Early Bronze Age (second half of the 3rd millennium BC) are attributed to ancient Hattians. The structure of archeological finds in some sites, like Hattush, reveal the existence of a complex culture with distinct social stratification. Most scholars believe that the first Hattian states existed already during the period of the Akkadian Empire. That assumption is based on some later sources, mainly Hittite and Assyrian. The epic known as the " King of Battle " (recorded in several versions from the 14th century BC onward) narrates about a war between Sargon the Great of Akkad (24th-23rd century BC) and king Nur-Daggal of Purushanda, but those events are not attested in contemporary sources, that would date from the period of the Akkadian Empire. [6] [7]

A Hittite version from c. 1400 BC of an older Akkadian story also narrates some events that are related to early times, taking place during the rule of king Naram-Sin of Akad (23rd century BC). The story describes a conflict between Naram-Sin and an alliance of 17 kings. The Hittite version of that story includes Pamba of Hatti among those kings, but that inclusion is not attested in Akkadian versions of the story, nor in contemporary sources, that would date from the period of the Akkadian Empire. Some scholars hold that the Hittite version (from c. 1400 BC) can be accepted as reliable and derived from some local sources. In that case, the narrative would contain a trustworthy tradition, thus providing a base for an assumption that the ancient Kingdom of Hatti existed already during the period of the Akkadian Empire. [8] [9] [10] [11]

The Hattians were organized in monarchical city-states. These states were ruled as theocratic kingdoms or principalities. Hattian regions of Anatolia came to be influenced by mighty Mesopotamian polities, such as those of the Akkadian Empire (24th-22nd century BC) and the succeeding Old Assyrian Empire (21st-18th century BC), both of which set up trading colonies called karum, located throughout eastern and central Anatolia. During the first centuries of the 2nd millennium BC, an Assyrian trade colony existed in the city of Hattush, and several Assyrian inscriptions mention (usually by office, not by name) the existence of local rulers (kings) of Hattush, also referring to their relations with other city-states in the region. [12] One of the haplogroups that can be considered as Anatolian, Ancient G-M201s with sequencing[self-published source?] Haplogroup G2a (G-P15) has been identified in Neolithic human remains in Europe dating between 5000 and 3000 BC. These Neolithic European were descendants of Neolithic farmers from Anatolia, among some of the earliest peoples in the world to practice agriculture. G-M201 has also been found in Neolithic Anatolian sites such as Boncuklu dating back to 8300-7600 BCE, and Barcin dating back to 6419-6238 BCE.[8] Today it is the most common Haplogroup among Caucasus populations. Shows a clear connection between Ancient Anatolians and Caucasus populations.


Linguistic homeland of Hattian language in central Anatolia Hattic-language-rus.png
Linguistic homeland of Hattian language in central Anatolia

Hattians spoke the Hattian language, a non-Indo-European and non-Semitic language of uncertain affiliation. Hattian is now believed by some scholars to be related to the Northwest Caucasian language group. [13] Trevor Bryce writes:

Evidence of a 'Hattic' civilization is provided by the remnants of one of the non-Indo-European languages found in the later Hittite archives. The language is identified in several of the texts in which it appears by the term hattili- '(written) in the language of Hatti.' The few texts that survive are predominantly religious or cultic in character. They provide us with the names of a number of Hattic deities, as well as Hattic personal and place-names. [14]

About 150 short specimens of Hattian text have been found in Hittite cuneiform clay tablets. Hattian leaders perhaps used scribes who wrote in Old Assyrian. Ekrem Akurgal wrote, "the Anatolian princes used scribes knowing Assyrian for commerce with Mesopotomia as at Kanesh (Kültepe)" to conduct business with Assyria. [15] From the 21st to the mid-18th centuries BC, Assyria established trade outposts in Hatti, such as at Hattum and Zalpa.

Scholars have long assumed that the predominant population of the region of Anatolia "in the third millennium [BC] was an indigenous pre-Indo-European group called the Hattians." Another non-Indo-European group were the Hurrians. [16] But it is thought possible that speakers of Indo-European languages were also in central Anatolia by then. The scholar Petra Goedegebuure has proposed that before the conquest of the Hittites, an Indo-European language, probably Luwian, had already been spoken alongside the Hattian language for a long time. [17]

Hattian became more ergative towards the New Hittite period. This development implies that Hattian remained alive until at least the end of the 14th century BC. [18]

Alexei Kassian proposed that the Northwest Caucasian languages (also known as Abkhazo-Adyghe), which are syntactically subject–object–verb, had lexical contacts with Hattian. [19]


The Storm-God, represented by a bull; Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara Ankara Muzeum B20-08.jpg
The Storm-God, represented by a bull; Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara

Hattian religion may be traced back to the Stone Age. It involved worship of the earth, personified as a mother goddess, whom the Hattians honored in order to ensure bountiful harvests and their own well-being. [20] The Hattian pantheon of gods included the storm-god Taru (represented by a bull), the sun-goddess Furušemu or Wurunšemu (represented by a leopard), and a number of other elemental gods.

Later on the Hittites subsumed much of the Hattian pantheon into their own religious beliefs. [21] James Mellaart has proposed that the indigenous Anatolian religion revolved around a water-from-the-earth concept. Pictorial and written sources show that the deity of paramount importance to the inhabitants of Anatolia was the terrestrial water-god. Many gods are connected with the earth and water. In Hittite cuneiform, the terrestrial water god is generally represented with d IM. The storm gods of Anatolia were written with about one hundred catalogue variants of dU, mostly described as the Stormgod of Hatti or with a city name. [22] [23]

The Hittite legends of Telipinu and the serpentine dragon Illuyanka find their origin in the Hattian civilization. [24]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anatolia</span> Peninsula in West Asia

Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in West Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region is bounded by the Turkish Straits to the north-west, the Black Sea to the north, the Armenian Highlands to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west. Topographically, the Sea of Marmara connects the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea through the Bosporus strait and the Dardanelles strait, and separates Anatolia from Thrace in the Balkan peninsula of Southeastern Europe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hittites</span> Ancient Anatolian people of Kussara

The Hittites were an Anatolian Indo-European people who formed one of the first major civilizations of Bronze Age West Asia. Possibly originating from beyond the Black Sea, they settled in modern day Turkey in the early 2nd millennium BC. The Hittites formed a series of polities in north-central Anatolia, including the kingdom of Kussara, the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom, and an empire centered on Hattusa. Known in modern times as the Hittite Empire, it reached its height during the mid-14th century BC under Šuppiluliuma I, when it encompassed most of Anatolia and parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hurrians</span> Historical ethnic group of Southwest Asia

The Hurrians were a people who inhabited the Ancient Near East during the Bronze Age. They spoke the Hurrian language, and lived throughout northern Syria, upper Mesopotamia and southeastern Anatolia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kültepe</span> Human settlement

Kültepe, also known as Kanesh or Nesha, is an archaeological site in Kayseri Province, Turkey, inhabited from the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC, in the Early Bronze Age. The nearest modern city to Kültepe is Kayseri, about 20km southwest. It consisted of an Upper city, and a lower city, where an Assyrian kārum, trading colony, was found. Its ancient names are recorded in Assyrian and Hittite sources. In cuneiform inscriptions from the 20th and the 19th century BC, the city was mentioned as Kaneš (Kanesh); in later Hittite inscriptions, the city was mentioned as Neša, or occasionally as Aniša (Anisha). In 2014, the archaeological site was inscribed in the Tentative list of World Heritage Sites in Turkey. It is the place where the earliest record of a definitively Indo-European language has been found, Hittite, dated to the 20th century BC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anatolian languages</span> Extinct branch of Indo-European languages

The Anatolian languages are an extinct branch of Indo-European languages that were spoken in Anatolia, part of present-day Turkey. The best known Anatolian language is Hittite, which is considered the earliest-attested Indo-European language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hittite language</span> Extinct Bronze Age Indo-European language

Hittite, also known as Nesite, is an extinct Indo-European language that was spoken by the Hittites, a people of Bronze Age Anatolia who created an empire centred on Hattusa, as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia. The language, now long extinct, is attested in cuneiform, in records dating from the 17th to the 13th centuries BC, with isolated Hittite loanwords and numerous personal names appearing in an Old Assyrian context from as early as the 20th century BC, making it the earliest attested use of the Indo-European languages.

Hattic, or Hattian, was a non-Indo-European agglutinative language spoken by the Hattians in Asia Minor in the 2nd millennium BC. Scholars call the language "Hattic" to distinguish it from Hittite, the Indo-European language of the Hittite Empire. The Hittites referred to the language as "hattili". The name is doubtlessly related to the Assyrian and Egyptian designation of an area west of the Euphrates as "Land of the Hatti" (Khatti).

Palaic is an extinct Indo-European language, attested in cuneiform tablets in Bronze Age Hattusa, the capital of the Hittites. Palaic, which was apparently spoken mainly in northern Anatolia, is generally considered to be one of four primary sub-divisions of the Anatolian languages, alongside Hittite, Luwic and Lydian.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anitta (king)</span>

Anitta, son of Pitḫana, reigned ca. 1740–1725 BC, and was a king of Kuššara, a city that has yet to be identified. He is the earliest known ruler to compose a text in the Hittite language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anatolian peoples</span> Indo-European ethnolinguistic group

The Anatolians were Indo-European-speaking peoples of the Anatolian Peninsula in present-day Turkey, identified by their use of the Anatolian languages. These peoples were among the oldest Indo-European ethnolinguistic groups and one of the most archaic, because Anatolians were among the first Indo-European peoples to separate from the Proto-Indo-European community that gave origin to the individual Indo-European peoples.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hittite mythology and religion</span> Religious beliefs and practices of the Hittites

Hittite mythology and Hittite religion were the religious beliefs and practices of the Hittites, who created an empire centered in what is now Turkey from c. 1600–1180 BC.

Pamba was king of Hatti, an ancient Bronze Age state from the pre-Hittite period, situated in central regions of Anatolia, modern Turkey. He is mentioned in only one source, a Hittite version of an older Akkadian story, that narrates several events related to much earlier times, taking place during the rule of great king Naram-Sin of Akkad. The story describes a war between the Akkadian ruler and an alliance of 17 kings, and the Hittite version includes Pamba of Hatti among those kings. That inclusion is not attested in Akkadian versions of the story, nor in contemporary sources, that would date from the period of the Akkadian Empire, but some scholars hold that Hittite version is conditionally reliable, and probably derived from some local sources. In that case, the narrative would contain a trustworthy tradition, and thus provide a base for an assumption that the ancient Kingdom of Hatti existed already during the period of the Akkadian Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kussara</span> Bronze Age kingdom in Anatolia

Kussara (Kuššar) was a Middle Bronze Age kingdom in Anatolia. The kingdom, though apparently important at one time, is mostly remembered today as the origin of the dynasty that would form the Old Hittite Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Syro-Hittite states</span> Iron Age states of modern Syria and Turkey

The states called Neo-Hittite, Syro-Hittite, or Luwian-Aramean, were Luwian and Aramean regional polities of the Iron Age, situated in southeastern parts of modern Turkey and northwestern parts of modern Syria, known in ancient times as lands of Hatti and Aram. They arose following the collapse of the Hittite New Kingdom in the 12th century BCE, and lasted until they were subdued by the Assyrian Empire in the 8th century BCE. They are grouped together by scholars, on the basis of several cultural criteria, that are recognized as similar and mutually shared between both societies, northern (Luwian) and southern (Aramaean). Cultural exchange between those societies is seen as a specific regional phenomenon, particularly in light of significant linguistic distinctions between the two main regional languages, with Luwian belonging to the Anatolian group of Indo-European languages and Aramaic belonging to the Northwest Semitic group of Semitic languages. Several questions related to the regional grouping of Luwian and Aramaean states are viewed differently among scholars, including some views that are critical towards such grouping in general.

The Kaska were a loosely affiliated Bronze Age non-Indo-European tribal people, who spoke the unclassified Kaskian language and lived in mountainous East Pontic Anatolia, known from Hittite sources. They lived in the mountainous region between the core Hittite region in eastern Anatolia and the Black Sea, and are cited as the reason that the later Hittite Empire never extended northward to that area. They are sometimes identified with the Caucones known from Greek records.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ancient Near East</span> Home of early civilizations within the area of the modern Middle East

The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient Persia, Anatolia and the Armenian highlands, the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. The ancient Near East is studied in the fields of ancient Near East studies, Near Eastern archaeology, and ancient history.

Purushanda was an Anatolian kingdom of the early second millennium prior to the common era. It was conquered by the Hittites sometime between 1650 and 1556 BCE.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prehistory of Anatolia</span> Prehistorical period in Western Asia

The prehistory of Anatolia stretches from the Paleolithic era through to the appearance of classical civilisation in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. It is generally regarded as being divided into three ages reflecting the dominant materials used for the making of domestic implements and weapons: Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. The term Copper Age (Chalcolithic) is used to denote the period straddling the stone and Bronze Ages.

Taru was a weather god worshiped in ancient Anatolia by Hattians. He was associated with the bull, and could be depicted in the form of this animal. It is presumed that the names of the Hittite and Luwian weather gods, Tarḫunna and Tarḫunz, while etymologically Indo-European, were meant to resemble Taru's as a result of Hattian cultural influence on other cultures of the region.


  1. Akurgal 2001, p. 4-6.
  2. Bryce 2005, p. 12-15.
  3. Bryce 2009, p. 297-298, 314.
  4. Bryce 2009, p. 297-298.
  5. Bryce 2014, p. 129.
  6. Akurgal 2001, p. 38.
  7. Bryce 2005, p. 25.
  8. Bryce 2005, p. 10.
  9. Bryce 2009, p. 297.
  10. Gilan 2010, p. 53.
  11. Gilan 2018, p. 7.
  12. Barjamovic 2011, p. 292-297.
  13. Burney 2004, p. 106-107.
  14. Bryce 2005, p. 12.
  15. Akurgal 2001, p. 5.
  16. Bryce 2005, p. 12-13.
  17. Petra Goedegebuure 2008 Central Anatolian Languages and Language Communities in the Colony Period: A Luwian-Hattian Symbiosis and the independent Hittites. OAAS volume 3 Leiden
  18. Published in Proceedings of the 53e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale Vol. 1: Language in the Ancient Near East (2010)
  19. Kassian, Alexei. 2009. Ugarit Forschungen Band 41, 403
  20. C. Scott Littleton (2005). Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 692–. ISBN   978-0-7614-7559-0 . Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  21. Burney 2004, p. 106.
  22. Hutter, Manfred (1997). "Religion in Hittite Anatolia. Some Comments on "Volkert Haas: Geschichte der hethitischen Religion"". Numen. 44 (1): 74–90. doi:10.1163/1568527972629911. JSTOR   3270383.
  23. Green, Alberto. R.W. (2003). The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East. Wioana Lake: Eisenbrauns. pp. 89–103. ISBN   978-1-57506-069-9.
  24. Akurgal 2001.